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Occupied Enemy Territory Administration

Occupied Enemy Territory Administration
Administration du territoire ennemi occupé (French)
إدارة أراضي العدو المحتلة (Arabic)
Iidarat 'aradi al-eadui al-muhtala
Flags of France and the United Kingdom, as well as the flag of the Arab administration in OETA-East
Area of the OETA, according to the British Government's History of the Great War Based on Official Documents[1]
Area of the OETA, according to the British Government's History of the Great War Based on Official Documents[1]
StatusOccupied territory
Common languagesArabic, Hebrew, Ottoman Turkish, English, French
• Established
23 October 1917
• San Remo conference
19 to 26 April 1920
• Disestablished
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate
Damascus Vilayet
Mutasarrifate of Jerusalem
Beirut Vilayet
Aleppo Vilayet
Adana Vilayet
Arab Kingdom of Syria
Mandatory Palestine
Greater Lebanon
Alawite State

The Occupied Enemy Territory Administration (OETA) was a joint British, French and Arab military administration over Levantine provinces of the former Ottoman Empire between 1917 and 1920, set up on 23 October 1917 following the Sinai and Palestine Campaign and Arab Revolt of World War I.[2] Although it was declared by the British military, who were in control of the region, it was followed on 30 September 1918 by the 1918 Anglo-French Modus Vivendi in which it was agreed that the British would give the French control in certain areas, and the Hashemites were given joint control of the Eastern area per T.E. Lawrence's November 1918 "Sharifian plan".[3]

Following the occupation of the Adana Vilayet (the region of Cilicia) in December 1918, a new territory, OETA North, was set up.[4] The administration ended in OETA West and OETA South in 1920 following the assignment of the Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon and British Mandate for Palestine at the 19–26 April 1920 San Remo conference.[5]

In OETA East, British administration ended following the withdrawal of British forces from the territory in November 1919, and the subsequent declaration of the Arab Kingdom of Syria over the same area. The area was split into two after the French defeated King Faisal in July 1920; the northern part of the territory was combined with the French-administered OETA West, and the southern part became a no man's land and later became the Emirate of Transjordan.[6]

Due to the success of the Turkish War of Independence, Marash, Aintab and Urfa sanjaks of former Aleppo Vilayet remained in Turkey after 1921. Also, Antakya and İskenderun kazas of Aleppo Sanjak in one were separated as the Republic of Hatay in 1938; the republic then instead became a part of Turkey in 1939.



On 23 October 1918, following the British and Arab forces' defeat of the Ottoman empire, Field Marshal Edmund Allenby announced that Ottoman Syria was to be split into three administrative sub-units, which varied very little from the previous Ottoman divisions:[7][8]

In December 1918, following the occupation of the region of Cilicia, a new territory was set up.[4]

Later events

King–Crane Commission OETA population estimates
South West East Totals
Muslim 515,000 600,000 1,250,000 2,365,000
Christian 62,500 400,000 125,000 587,500
Druze 60,000 80,000 140,000
Jewish 65,000 15,000 30,000 110,000
Other 5,000 20,000 20,000 45,000
Totals 647,500 1,095,000 1,505,000 3,247,500
Results of the King–Crane Commission Petitions received from OETA South (became Palestine), OETA West (became Lebanon and Western Syria) and OETA East (became Syria and Transjordan); it has been described as "the first-ever survey of Arab public opinion".[10]

Under this administration the immediate needs of the people were provided for, seed grain and live-stock were imported and distributed, finance on easy terms was made available through the Army bankers, a stable currency was set up and postal services restored.[11] Allenby insisted that as long as military administration was required, it was to remain his responsibility.[12]

Military administrators

OETA South chief administrators

The area was divided into four districts: Jerusalem, Jaffa, Majdal and Beersheba, each under a military governor. Both of the first two British administrators, Generals Money and Watson, were removed by London for not favouring the Zionists over the Arabs;[13] when the OETA administration ended, Zionist politician Herbert Samuel was installed as the first civilian administrator.[13] Samuel recorded his acceptance of the role, and the end of military administration, in an often-quoted document: "Received from Major-General Sir Louis J. Bols K.C.B.—One Palestine, complete."[14]

OETA East administrators

OETA East was a joint Arab-British military administration. The Arab and British armies entered Damascus on 1 October 1918, and on 3 October 1918 Ali Rida al-Rikabi was appointed Military Governor of OETA East.[15][16] Prince Faisal son of King Hussain of Mecca entered Damascus as on 4 October and appointed Rikabi Chief of the Council of Directors (i.e. prime minister) of Syria.

The boundary definition of OETA East left uncertainties to the south and east, leading to competing claims from the Kingdom of Hejaz and Occupied Iraq respectively – see Occupation of Ma'an and Occupation of Zor for further details.

OETA North (West) administrators

  • Marie Antoine Philpin de Piépape (7 Oct 1918 - 19 Nov 1918)
  • Jules Camille Hamelin (19 Nov 1918 - 21 Nov 1919)
  • François Georges Barb (21 Nov 1919 - 1 Sep 1920)

OETA North (Cilicia) administrators

No. Portrait Name
Term of office Ref.
Took office Left office Time in office
1 Major general
Arthur Wigram Money
June 1918 June 1919 1 year
2 Major general
Harry Davis Watson
June 1919 December 1919 6 months
3 Lieutenant general
Louis Bols
January 1920 July 1920 6 months

Initiation and administration

The OETA was established on 23 October 1918, under the accepted rules of military occupation, and defined as follows:

1. The enemy territory occupied by the allied troops of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force will be divided, for purposes of provisional military administration, into three areas, each in charge of a "Chief Administrator" directly responsible in all cases to the Commander-in-Chief.

The three areas and their Chief Administrators are : -

(a) "Occupied Enemy Territory (South)". - Chief Administrator, -~ General Sir A. W. Money, K.C.B., C.S.I., (British). Comprises the Sanjaks of Jerusalem, Nablus, and Acre.
(b) "Occupied Enemy Territory (North)". - Chief Administrator, - Colonel M.A.F.J. de Piepape, (French). Comprises the Sanjaks of Beirut, Lebanon, Ladikiya and the town of Beirut; the Kazas of Hasbiya, Rashiya, Jisr es Shaghur, Bay of Antioch, Yeniji Kali, Im Beidan, and Alexandretta.
(c) "Occupied Enemy Territory (East)". - Chief Administrator, - Ali Riza El Rikabi (Arab). Comprises all districts East of (a) and (b) above, up to the northern limits of the Kazas of Jebel Seman and El Bab.

2. The system of administration will be in accordance with the Laws and Usages of War as laid down in Ch. XIV, S.8, Manual of Military Law. Departures from these principles will not be permitted except with the approval of the Commander-in-Chief. As far as possible the Turkish system of government will be continued, and the existing machinery of government will be utilized.

3. The Administration will be required to provide for all necessary government services, and the extent to which these services can be developed, during the state of war, is left to the discretion of the Chief Administrator concerned.

4. As far as possible it is desired to retain Turkish administrative areas, and in this way to utilise existing Turkish records.

5. The Administration of the Ottoman Public Debt will be permitted to continue its functions, subject to the general control of the Chief Administrator.

6. The Régie Tobacco Monopoly will likewise continue its functions under similar conditions.

7. Chief Administrators will communicate with the Commander-in-Chief through the Deputy-Adjutant General, G.H.Q., to whom all reports will be addressed.

8. Chief Administrators will submit reports on the general situation in their areas, by 15th of each month.

9. In view of the fact that the administration is military, provisional, and without prejudice to future settlement, Chief Administrators will not undertake, except in so far as is necessary for the maintenance of security and public order, any political propaganda, and will not take part in any political controversies.
— Public Record Office. W.O. 106. File 718; Secret (Telegram E.A. 1808 of 23.10.18)[18]


This draft British Telegram of September 1919, ordering the withdrawal of British troops from the French and Arab areas of the OETA, was prepared shortly after the Franco-British conference at Deauville. The line in point 5 became known as the "Deauville Line"

The OETA administrations were disestablished at different times in each of the regions, following the formal appointment of civil administrations (prior to the formal coming into force of the mandates):


  1. ^ Macmunn & Falls 1930, p. 606-607.
  2. ^ Macmunn & Falls 1930, pp. 606–607.
  3. ^ Paris 2003, p. 48.
  4. ^ a b c Macmunn & Falls 1930, p. 623.
  5. ^ Macmunn & Falls 1930, pp. 607–609.
  6. ^ Macmunn & Falls 1930, p. 609: "The Arab zone was divided into two, the southern of which became, and remains to-day, the mandated territory of Trans-Jordan, under the rule of Abdulla, Hussein's second son. At Damascus the experiment was tried of a French-protected State under Feisal, but it speedily failed. Feisal was ejected by the French in July 1920, and Zone A linked with the Blue Zone under a common administration."
  7. ^ Karsh, Efraim (6 March 2000). Israel: Israel's transition from community to state. Psychology Press. ISBN 9780714649634 – via Google Books.
  8. ^ Roberto Mazza (30 September 2009). Jerusalem: From the Ottomans to the British. I.B.Tauris. p. 148. ISBN 978-0-85771-393-3.
  9. ^ Biger, 2005, p.53: "This initial division along the lines of the Ottoman administrative division for the purposes of military government, was in fact the first definition of an area that would later be determined as 'Palestine'"
  10. ^ Zogby, James (11 July 2008). "Opinions Matter: A Lesson From History". Huffington Post.
  11. ^ Keogh, E. G.; Joan Graham (1955). Suez to Aleppo. Melbourne: Directorate of Military Training by Wilkie & Co. OCLC 220029983. pp. 202–203
  12. ^ Hughes, Matthew, ed. (2004). Allenby in Palestine: The Middle East Correspondence of Field Marshal Viscount Allenby June 1917 – October 1919. Army Records Society. Vol. 22. Phoenix Mill, Thrupp, Stroud, Gloucestershire: Sutton Publishing Ltd. ISBN 978-0-7509-3841-9. Allenby to Robertson 25 January 1918 in Hughes 2004, p. 128
  13. ^ a b Fieldhouse, D. K. (6 April 2006). Western Imperialism in the Middle East 1914-1958. OUP Oxford. p. 198. ISBN 978-0-19-153696-0.
  14. ^ Owen, C. V. (2004). "Bols, Sir Louis Jean (1867–1930)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/31947. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  15. ^ Watson, William E. (2003). Tricolor and Crescent: France and the Islamic World. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 53–. ISBN 978-0-275-97470-1.
  16. ^ Tauber, Eliezer (5 March 2014). The Arab Movements in World War I. Routledge. p. 240. ISBN 978-1-135-19978-4.
  17. ^ a b Tauber, Eliezer (13 September 2013). The Formation of Modern Iraq and Syria. Routledge. p. 30. ISBN 978-1-135-20118-0.
  18. ^ Alsberg, Paul Avraham [in German] (1973). "קביעת הגבול המזרחי של ארץ ישראל (Determining the Eastern Boundary of the Land of Israel)". In Daniel Carpi (ed.). הציונות: מאסף לתולדות התנועה הציונית והישוב היהודי בארץ־ישראל. אוניברסיטת תל-אביב, הוצאת הקיבוץ המאוחד. available in pdf here ((cite book)): External link in |quote= (help)


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Occupied Enemy Territory Administration
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